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Are psychopaths happy?

Last week I had people vote on Linkedin and Instagram and overwhelmingly people wanted to know if psychopaths are happy. This week, you’ll discover what a psychopath is, what psychopaths generally receive as a diagnosis, why psychopathy is difficult to treat and finally, learn if psychopaths are happy.

Ok, before we even start, you are probably not a psychopath!!!

If you’re like me the entire time I was reading about psychopaths I got scared that I was one. About 29% of the population is shown to have at least one psychopathic trait, but only 0.6% meet the criteria of actual psychopaths.

In other words, you’re probably fine, but if you’re like me and you still want to check, I took this quiz.

What is psychopathy?

Psychopathy is one of the most widely used terms in popular media to describe villains in the public eye. Psychopaths are characterised as people like Joe from YOU or Ted Bundy, but not all psychopaths are completely destructive members of society.

Psychopathy in itself is similar to narcissism and both share low levels of empathy, agreeableness and humility. Psychopaths tend to be less long-term thinkers and commonly have problems with impulse control.

Although there is no cure for psychopathy, people can be taught to control their symptoms. Keep in mind, psychopathy isn’t actually a mental health diagnosis and instead is generally diagnosed as Anti Social Personality Disorder (ASPD). Psychopathy characteristics overlap with symptoms of antisocial personality disorder, a broader mental health condition used to describe people who chronically act out and break rules.

What is Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)?

Only a small number of individuals with antisocial personality disorder are considered to be psychopaths, but we’ll focus on this criteria because it has an agreed-upon definition in the DSM-5. People with ASPD are able to feel anger and rage but unable to experience fear and dissatisfaction. In order to receive a diagnosis of ASPD, a person must show a pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others.

This is indicated by three or more of the below criteria according to the DSM-5:

  • failure to conform to social norms concerning lawful behaviours, such as performing acts that are grounds for arrest

  • deceitfulness, repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for pleasure or personal profit

  • impulsivity or failure to plan

  • irritability and aggressiveness, often with physical fights or assaults

  • reckless disregard for the safety of self or others

  • consistent irresponsibility, failure to sustain consistent work behaviour, or honour monetary obligations

  • lack of remorse, being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another person

Why is psychopathy hard to treat?